Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gauchos hit road for first of three tourneys

The UC Santa Barbara women’s volleyball team will open the 2008 season this weekend at the Cal Molten Classic in Berkeley.
The Gauchos will take-on 2007 NCAA Regional qualifier St. John’s on Saturday at 1 p.m. before facing the tournament host, No. 5 Cal, on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. This week’s is the first of four season-opening tournaments as the Gauchos begin 2008 with a 13-match road swing.

For the first time in program history, the Gauchos failed to make the NCAA Tournament field in 2007 after posting a 14-18 overall record and finishing seventh in the Big West (6-10). The season did not pass, though, without several high-points. Three players were named to All-Big West teams, including senior outside hitter Lauren McLaughlin, who was named to the conference’s first team, and sophomore setter Dana Vargas, who was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team.
Senior libero Leigh Stephenson scooped her way to the conference and school records for single season digs with 650.
On their quest for a 27th NCAA Tournament berth, the Gauchos will face yet another challenging schedule in 2008. This season’s slate features nine opponents from the 2007 NCAA Tournament field including two Sweet 16 opponents and two Final Four participants. The Gauchos first big test will come this weekend when they face two of those four teams: St. John’s, which made it into the Regional Semifinals last season, and Cal, who competed in the Final Four. Following the Cal Molten Classic, UCSB will play in two more Bay Area tournaments, the USF Asics/Powerade Challenge and the Stanford Invitational, before returning to Southern California for a single match with non-conference foe Loyola Marymount and the Pepperdine Asics Classic. After opening the Big West season on the road at Cal State Northridge on Sept. 26 and Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 27, the Gauchos will finally hit the Thunderdome court on Oct. 3 for their home opener against Pacific. In all, UCSB is scheduled to play eight home contests this season.

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